ON the heels of the news that Phil Rosenberg will not seek re-election in West Hampstead next year, comes the further development that his fellow Labour ward councillor James Yarde, Labour’s youngest ever councillor in Camden, will also not stand again. Rival parties who have targeted the ward at next year’s boroughwide polls will be lapping this news up, as Labour’s own election analyst Lewis Baston has warned many times how incumbents have better chances of holding seats for the party.
It means the Labour team that famously beat the sitting Liberal Democrats, and their leader Keith Moffitt in 2014 (picture above is from election night), will be missing from the ballot paper after just one term in office. Phil and James aren’t standing again, while Angela Pober is no longer on the Labour ticket after going independent following a curious row over whether West Hampstead Library was safe from cuts or not.
Here are the messages Phil and James have sent to local branch members this evening (Easter Sunday):
It is with a heavy heart that I am getting in touch to let you know that I do not intend to stand again in local elections next year.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and my fellow local Labour party members for all the support you have given me. Without it, we would not have been able to secure Labour representation in West Hampstead for the first time in years.
I will soon be completing my PhD at the London School of Economics, after which I will be looking for a University teaching post. Uncertainty in the academic job market – in no small part caused by Brexit – means that it is important that I can be flexible around where I work. Sadly, I have accepted that this is likely to mean moving further afield.
Standing for Council is a big commitment – and if elected again, it would take me all the way to 2022. In the knowledge that it is unlikely I would be able to see out another full term, I have decided that standing down in 2018 is the best course to take. This is not a decision I have taken lightly and I have spent a lot of time weighing up the options.
I am proud of my achievements, working to make West Hampstead an even better place to live. As a Labour Council, we have worked hard to secure new school places, invest in housing and protect our libraries. All this, in the face of a Tory government that has sought to cut Local Councils down at every opportunity.
The hard work will continue into 2018. I look forward to supporting the next generation of Labour candidates ahead of Local Elections – and it is crucial that we maintain a strong Labour voice in West Hampstead.
As I have already told some of you, I have decided not to re-stand for election to the council in 2018.
I have wrestled with this decision for some months, but in the end, I am expecting some significant changes in my life between 2018-2022 – hopefully buying a property and starting a family – and the flexibility of not being a councillor will mean that I can hopefully have the occasional free evening for family and that I can widen my property search to outside as well as inside Camden.
This decision is not without a significant dollop of sadness. I love West Hampstead and I love being a councillor here. I owe so many of you a huge debt of gratitude for your support in campaigning and thinking about how we confront the challenges facing our residents.
That all being said, I am not going anywhere soon. I intend to serve the remainder of this term with the same energy and commitment, and to help the candidates we select in every way I can to ensure that West Hampstead elects three Labour councillors in 2018. By announcing this now, ahead of next month’s panel interviews, my hope is to enable the next crop of candidates to put themselves forward for our very special area. A few people have already mentioned their interest to me and I know we have some real talent coming through.
As some of you will know, in what will be my final year – at least for now – I am not slowing down at all. I am, in fact, standing for Camden’s cabinet. It is my hope that I can ensure that our part of the Borough is represented around the cabinet table and that I can be in an even position to better influence decision-making to put West Hampstead on the best possible footing for 2018 and beyond.
I look forward to seeing you at a Party meeting, on the doorstep, at a residents meeting, or around our wonderful area very soon.